2010, Books, Non-Fiction

The Mendacity of Hope (2010) by Roger D. Hodge

I was extremely skeptical of this book when I was lent it by my father. I don’t particularly like polemics and I figured, despite the claims on the back cover, that I would react the usual way to such things: which is that I would dismiss outright after 25-50 pages.

Sure enough that was my first reaction. I can’t help but say to Hodge that, like anyone else, Obama is only one man, and any man who is subject to all the favour-promising of the American presidential cycle is hardly someone to count upon. And I can’t help but think Hodge was one of the ones who fell for him (at least at some point in the distant past), otherwise why is he so mad? (Unless of course he is just tired, like so many of us, of the St. Obama stuff.) But despite these things something happened: I began to agree with him.

I think my initial skepticism had a lot to do with the fact that I haven’t paid attention to US politics with any seriousness in years, simply because every American TV news source except for PBS makes me absolutely insane (and I can’t receive PBS). I frankly stopped paying attention. So when I have defended Obama to some (on both sides) as “well-meaning” and “just a man” it turns out I was doing so without anything to justify that.

The scary thing about this book (okay one of the scary things) is that Obama is essentially Bush with different interests, only Bush was at least somewhat incompetent, had to rely on others (often as incompetent) and really wasn’t good at hiding what he was up to. Obama is very good at convincing a sizable portion of reasonable Americans – do not consider the “solid 25%” to be reasonable Americans, so the comparison with Bush doesn’t fit – that he is trying very hard to change things and to be a major improvement over Bush, when he is anything but. If Hodge is to be believed – and he has reputable sources for most of his claims, except for the odd, often hilarious, opinion – Obama is in many ways worse than Bush because Obama acts like he isn’t Bush whereas Bush was transparent in that sense (if in no other).

I am not for a second attempting to justify any of the far right criticisms that come from the Tea Party types. And, to clarify, that’s not what this book is about. Hodge doesn’t believe Obama is a socialist (I suspect he would like him if he was); rather Hodge sees Obama as more of the same Reagan / Bush / Clinton / Bush Jr. that has put the US where it is now. They really haven’t differed all that much on policy in real terms – except for how much the debt has skyrocketed under two of them – and the fact that Obama is just more of the same is infuriating if only because he has always claimed he is not. (And the others really haven’t made much of that.)

If you read this and agree with him, at the very least you will be greatly disappointed and quite possibly more likely you will be enraged at the farce that is Obama Inc.


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